Criminology

Question 1

The social learning theory was primarily authored by Albert Bandura. Since its creation it has been cited to have various strengths and weaknesses. Majorly, however, it has been cited as a theory with strong assertions. First, it explains behavioral differences. Second, it is an optimistic theory. Third, it gives an accurate picture detailing how behavior is learned. Fifth, it explains various behaviors. Finally, it is easy to understand, accurate, and accounts for cognitive processes (Bandura & McClelland, 1977). Its weaknesses include: high emphasis is put on the happenings rather than on its effect on the observer; it fails to account for mental and physical changes; assumes that all people have similar opinions with regard to punishment and reward; and fails to account for some behaviors (Rosenstock, Strecher & Becker, 1988).

Based on its main assertions and its major weaknesses, the social learning theory has met with a lot of criticism. Biological theorists argue that the theory does not accommodate behavioral differences that arise as a result of genetics, learning and brain disparities. Critics have also argued that children were teased and treated unethically in the Bobo doll experiment, and thus manipulated. They also argue that the children had long-term implications after getting involved in the experiment (Rotter, 1982).

The Bobo doll experiment provided the empirical research for testing the social learning theory. It is based on children’s reactions after observing an adult model being rewarded, ignored or punished after mistreating a Bobo doll.

The social learning theory mainly appreciates punishment for wrongs done. It argues that people tend to drop those behaviors for which they are punished. It also discourages those behaviors for which people risk being punished (Rotter, 1982). The universally accepted prison system is a form of punishment that is motivated by the social learning theory.

Question 2

The positivist theory attempts to obtain the ultimate truth using scientific methods. The classical view argues that people reason before committing a crime. In cases where reward and punishment are possible, they weigh such activities so as to be on the winning end (Meier & Miethe, 1993). On the contrary, the positivist theory argues that people have no free will and that their behaviors are dependent on some physical and behavioral factors.

The classical theory originated in the 18th century during the century of enlightenment. On the other hand, positivist theory originated in the 19th century, also known as the age of reason. The two theories therefore originated from different periods (Rosenstock, Strecher & Becker, 1988).

The leading figures of the classical theory were Jeremy Bentham. On the other hand, the positivist theory was led by Cesatre Lambroso, Enrico Feri and Rafael Garofalo. The two theories were therefore mainly driven by different people (Rotter, 1982).

The purpose of the classical theory was to humanize and reform the penal and legal systems. The classical theory advocated for the law to be created in such a way that it promoted order rather than being used to avenge crime. On the other hand, positivism promoted the use of science to study crime and criminality (Rosenstock, Strecher & Becker, 1988).

Finally, classical theory argues that behavior is motivated by increasing pleasure and reducing pain. On the other hand, positivism argues that behavior is based on the psychological, social and biological constraints on our free will and rationality (Rotter, 1982).

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